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Based on True Stories, Inspired by, or?

March 19, 2015

Just as I was going to reveal ‘secrets’ about the true story inspiration of my latest novel here, I realized that all my novels have been more or less rooted in reality, and real people’s lives. Hence, the following thoughts.

A novel doesn’t have to be based on a true story, nor even exactly inspired by one, to be brimming with elements of truth. True story threads and real people are potentially springboards to any fiction.

Whether reading about other people in their journal entries, historic letters, biographies or books; or whether I think of my myself and people I’ve known through the years – when writing fiction, character traits and personalities emerge from that wealth of information gathered over time. No matter how far past or far away their lives, others’ feelings and experiences remind me that, in general, people are people.

Individual and shared truths are out there, and in our heads. Putting them into novels is natural.

You can’t entirely get around or away from what and who you’ve known. Maybe the stories and characters you’ve experienced in your life – whether actually or virtually, whether first, second or third hand – are part of your Muse within. Perhaps they all sit over your shoulder with or as your Muse, in a way – influencing what and who you write.

When creating fiction, real life experiences enter into the realms of our imaginary worlds and plotlines. Whether we do it intentionally or intuitively; beyond ourselves, people we’ve known or learned of over time, emerge in our characters. And why ever not? It’s the way it should be.

By allowing elements from our knowledge and understanding of life, ourselves and the people surrounding us in it, we can write richer fiction. More realistic. More interesting. More like people and events we’ve all known. Stories and characters other people can relate to, root for and maybe even learn from.

Stories that stem from truth are the novels I like to write, and to read. Either way, it’s all about the real things in life. And because people crave community, solace can be found in that communication.

I don’t know about you, but a story without people I can relate to in some way, just doesn’t seem worth reading at all.

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